Fabric Identification by Burn Test

Have a fabric but not sure what it is, Here is a quick burn test to identify the fabric.

What you need:

  • Tweezers
  • A small (1" x 1") piece of fabric to be tested
  • A lighter
  • A tray (glass or metallic)
  • Some water in case of any emergency


What to look out for:

  • How the fabric burns
  • Smell of the smoke that comes out
  • Residual (ashes) of the test

**Kindly do not perform this test if you are allergic (to smoke or dust) or have sinus problems. You will need to smell the smoke during the test, so it would help if you don't have cold.**


How to Perform the test:

Carefully hold the fabric with a pair of tweezers and ignite the fabric with lighter. Hold the fabric over the tray, so that any residues fall into the tray.


Below are the test results:


It burns and may flare up when lit. After burning, it continues to glow. It gives out a smell like that of a burning paper. The ash is fine and soft and can be easily crumbled.


It takes longer to ignite. It is easily extinguished by blowing on it. After burning no sign of flame is seen. It smells like burning leaves or wood.


It burns slowly and curls away from the flame. It leaves a dark bead which can be easily crushed. It smells like burned hair or charred meat. It gives out little or no smoke and the fume has no hazard.


It burns slowly, sizzles and curls away from flame. It leaves beads that are brittle, dark, and easily crushed. It is self-extinguishing and leaves harsh ash from crushed bead. It gives out a strong odour of burning hair or feathers.


It burns quickly and shrinks away from flame, may also flare up. It leaves hard, dark, and round beads. After the flame, it burns slowly and is not always self-extinguishing. It has a slightly sweet chemical odour. It leaves no ash but its black smoke and fume are hazardous.

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